Tuesday 3 October proved to be a good start to this autumnal month as today we embarked upon the Provincial tour. I travelled with Keith Kemp and Barry Fitzgerald to Shaw Hill Golf and Country Club, Chorley where we were staying overnight. Later in the afternoon we were off to Chorley Masonic Hall for our visit to Chorley Lodge No 6287 where we witnessed the raising of Thomas Richardson. An excellent ceremony conducted by the WM and past masters of the lodge. As this was part of our Provincial tour we were accompanied by Stewart Seddon, David Asbridge, Peter Allen, Mark Barton and Ian Halsall together with the Chorley Group Chairman Peter Lockett and many other brethren from the group. A great start to our annual Provincial sojourn.
The next day, after a hearty breakfast we, all set sail from Chorley on the canal aboard a pleasure barge for a morning sail up the canal and back before travelling to Wellington Park, Leyland for the installation meeting of Euxton Lodge No 7192. I was again accompanied by members of the Provincial team together with Norman Thomson, the PrGM for Cumberland and Westmorland who was visiting the lodge as a guest of the master elect, George Askins. Yet another wonderful evening of Masonic ritual and festivities enjoyed by all present and bringing our `Provincial tour` to a close. A most enjoyable time was had by all of us.
On Friday 6 October, Maureen and I travelled to Llandudno for the annual Royal Arch and Craft Provincial meetings of the Province of North Wales. This was being held on Saturday 7 October and was very well attended by the brethren of the Province and many distinguished guests. I was joined by Harry Cox, Kevin Poynton, Stewart Seddon, Peter Taylor, Freddie Wright and Joe Williams for two most enjoyable meetings. Maureen and I stayed over for a long weekend before travelling up to Liverpool on Monday.
On the Monday evening of 9 October, I attended the University Lodge of Liverpool No 4274, meeting at the Medical Centre for a second degree ceremony, very ably conducted by the WM. The lodge room was full to capacity and I was accompanied by Derek Parkinson, David Grainger, together with David Asbridge and Peter Allen the Provincial Grand Wardens, plus Keith Kemp and Ian Halsall together with a number of grand officers from the Gladstone Group. Following the meeting we adjourned to the unusual dining room for an excellent dinner.
In the evening of the following day, I turned my attentions to the Mark degree and accompanied the PrGM Keith Beardmore and his Provincial team on a visit to Scorton Mark Lodge where we witnessed the advancement ceremony of Stephen McClintock, conducted by Bob Tinsley. A delightful ceremony followed by a special presentation to John Orr, who was celebrating his 100th year. A great evening and a delicious supper at the Wyrebank Masonic Centre in Garstang.
Thursday 12 October dawned a bright and sunny day for our Provincial Grand Chapter meeting in Southport. This was held at the Convention Centre. My first job this morning was to have a PSA test which was available for all companions attending the meeting. The rehearsals for the meeting were duly carried out during the morning to the satisfaction of the Provincial DC. As our companions arrived, light refreshments were made available for our many distinguished guests from other Provinces. As the meeting opened I was thrilled to see so many companions in attendance; 700 of us enjoyed a wonderful convocation, and I was delighted to invest or promote in Provincial Grand Chapter some 185 companions. The meeting was followed by an excellent dinner to which some 400 companions sat down. It was a wonderful conclusion to a most enjoyable and successful day.
The next day, after a relaxing day, I was off to Morecambe Masonic Hall in the evening for a meeting of Runic Lodge No 6019. It was a business meeting with a slight difference as there was a presentation to the lodge of a ‘Rehal stand’ for the Koran. After the presentation we received an explanation of its origins which was then followed by a delicious meal in the company of many old friends whom I had not seen for some time.
It is not often that I attend a Saturday lodge meeting but on this occasion Keith Kemp and I travelled the next morning to Litherland, Masonic Hall for the installation meeting of Prince of Architects Lodge No 4188. Stephen McCraken was installed as master by Morgan Denyer in a delightful ceremony witnessed by many members of the lodge and their guests. After the meeting we enjoyed a convivial predinner drink, followed by an excellent festive banquet.
On Monday 16 October I had a long day visit to London, calling at 10 Duke Street, St James’s for a special meeting of the 31st degree ceremony in the ‘Ancient and Accepted Rite of the Rose Croix’. A wonderful occasion marred only by the high winds and a train failure on my return journey.
The following day I had an early start, travelling to Wellington Park, Leyland for my Royal Arch cabinet meeting. This was attended by all the members of the cabinet together with members of the Craft cabinet for a presentation. After luncheon I travelled to Southport for the installation meeting of County Palatine Lodge No 2505 which was held at the Royal Clifton Hotel. Colin Jenkins installed his successor Michael Braham in a most elegant and delightful manner. I was accompanied by many acting Provincial grand officers and a galaxy of grand officers together with the DC Keith Kemp and all his deputies. The reason was that this was a very special meeting for the senior deputy DC Mark Barton, being his last year as a Craft deputy DC before moving on to attend upon officers in the Royal Arch. A spectacular evening and a delicious banquet was had by over 100 brethren attending the meeting.
Wednesday 18 October saw me travelling in the evening to St Helens once again with Keith Kemp the Provincial DC. We were joined by Tony Bent and other grand and Provincial grand officers at St Helens Lodge No 4121 for their installation meeting. It’s a small lodge but extremely well supported by members of the group. The master, Andrew Jones, assisted the lodge by continuing in office for another year. A most enjoyable proclamation meeting followed by a delicious dinner at this unique Masonic centre.
The next day I needed my passport in order to cross the border into Cumberland and Westmorland for their annual Provincial Craft meeting which was held at the Sands Centre in the centre of Carlisle. A very well attend meeting by the members of the Province together with a good number of guests from other Provinces. The PrGM Norman Thomson most generously presented me with a cheque for our MCF 2021 Festival. A great day for us all culminated with a wonderful roast beef banquet at the Shepherds Inn.
Saturday 21 October and a Masonic social occasion this evening. The annual Provincial Mark Ball, held at the Marriott Hotel, Preston. A fantastic evening in the company of many old and new Mark Masons and their ladies. A delightful meal and evening entertainment by the Pyramid Band
On the Sunday following, in the afternoon Maureen and I travelled to Wigan for their group Tercentenary Church Service at a very full, St Matthew`s Parish Church in Wigan. We were in the company of the Mayor and Mayoress of Wigan and the Rt Rev Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool. Following this most enjoyable service of thanksgiving we travelled to Bryn Masonic Hall for a fantastic dinner. The dining room, which was again packed with brethren and their ladies, was full to capacity. An excellent day of Masonic enjoyment.
On the morning of 23 October, I was once again off to Leyland for my group chairman`s meeting. This was attended by all chairmen or their vice chairmen for what was a very interesting and informative meeting for all who attended.
Wednesday 25 October arrived and another journey down the M6. I was accompanied by Keith Kemp and Peter Taylor for this journey to Widnes Masonic Hall for the centenary anniversary celebration of Hale Lodge of Fellowship No 3799. We were joined by Kevin Poynton, Godfrey Hirst our Provincial Chaplain, David and Peter the Provincial Grand Wardens and many other acting Provincial grand officers for this very special celebration. The lodge was full, with some 75 brethren and their guests in attendance. An excellent ceremony with a wonderful oration from Rev Godfrey Hirst following which I promoted the master of the lodge Neil Pedder to the rank of PPrJGW. It was good to have an opportunity to meet with so many of the brethren from the Widnes Group during our predinner drinks and then we were hosted to a delicious chicken dinner. A wonderful evening was had by all.
The next evening, I needed my passport again. This time to enter the Province of Cheshire. I, along with Sir David Trippier the PrGM for East Lancashire, had been invited to attend the installation meeting of Lodge of Gratitude No 6329 by the master elect Stephen Blank, who is also the PrGM of the Province. It was very auspicious occasion in this very distinguished lodge. I noted several slight differences within the ritual to those used by many lodges in West Lancashire, but a great evening of Masonic ritual and festivities was had at the Leicester Warren Masonic Centre in Knutsford. I was able to get my passport stamped and was then allowed to return to West Lancashire after enjoying a wonderful evening.
27 October, a relaxing day with time for a walk along Morecambe`s prom this afternoon with Maureen. A beautiful autumn day with magnificent views of the Lakeland hills. This evening I attended my Royal Ark Mariners lodge in Morecambe for the installation meeting. A very pleasant evening in the company of many friends within the local group.
Quite coincidentally, I also had on this day a very good reason to be most grateful to yet another Masonic Order, for I learned that David Sear of the Lakeland Chapter Rose Croix, very kindly made a substantial donation to the MCF 2021 Festival, through the Inspector General of the Rose Croix for North West Lancashire, Philip Gardner. On behalf of the Festival I extend a sincere thank you.
Saturday 28 October was quite a miserable day, very cloudy and wet, but Maureen and I had something brighter on the horizon as we were going to Preston, to join over 160 other guests for the Provincial Charity Stewards Annual Concert and Dinner held at Ashlar House, Preston. We all had a most delicious dinner followed by excellent entertainment which left us all in a state of laughter and very happy throughout the evening. This wonderful event resulted in substantial contributions to the Preston Masonic Centre, WLFC and the MCF 2021 Festival. Thanks to all who organised and supported this terrific fun filled evening.
On Monday 30 October I departed for London, accompanied by Phil Gunning, Tony Bent, David Grainger and many other brethren intending to attend the Tercentenary celebrations of United Grand Lodge. We all enjoyed a very convivial and most delicious dinner at the La Barca Restaurant in London in the evening before returning to our hotel.
The following day on 31 October, after enjoying a very leisurely breakfast we set forth along the banks of the River Thames for our morning constitutional walk before preparing ourselves for the unknown but eagerly awaited Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall. Arriving at 1pm, we joined the vast throng of 1,000s of Freemasons from all around the world, all converging upon the Royal Albert Hall. The doors opened at 2:30pm for the admission of an audience of 4,000 brethren.
It was quite a fabulous spectacle seeing so many Masons congregating in the area both inside and outside this monumental building. It was also staggering to see the inside of the Royal Albert Hall in all its glory and readiness for our celebration. It cannot be expressed in words, one had to personally witness the magnificent splendour of the setting. The artful incorporation of the square and compasses dominating the stage at some 20 feet high, behind which was assembled the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra playing to the packed auditorium. The celebration was just fantastic and you can see it on the Freemasonry Today website by following this link. The presented show was over two hours in duration and the stirring finale of 4,000 Masons singing `I vow to thee my country`, `Jerusalem` and ending with `the National Anthem` to the magnificent accompaniment of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra was just out of this world!
Following the event, we then had to move across London to the Battersea Evolution for the ‘Celebratory Banquet’. A difficult logistical problem for 2,000 Masons and which took some 45 minutes in the rush hour traffic. On our arrival the champagne was plentiful prior to enjoying a most delicious dinner of ‘lobster tortellini’, followed by ‘treacle roast fillet of beef’, traditional sherry trifle and a huge cheese platter; all of which was accompanied by an extensive selection of red and white wines. This wonderful occasion was a day to remember for a long time and I am most appreciative of the 130 West Lancashire brethren who travelled to London for this special and unique event in the history of Freemasonry and also for those who joined me for the banquet at the Battersea Evolution. It was a fantastic day, which brought the month of October to a climactic closure.
Provincial Grand Master